You want to help students, but you don’t want them throwing their phones in a river because they’re so sick of the constant buzzing from your outreach. There’s a fine line to balance.
So, how often should you be texting students?
(You’re going to get mad at me for using this phrase.)
Are you helping them?
We’ll start here. If your text will help a student, send the text. That’s a great way to gauge the importance of every piece of communication you send - ask yourself if your recipient will find your text helpful.
For Admissions staff sending out nudges and reminders to guide prospective students through their enrollment process, make sure you’re sending out a text for every step of the process. If you are sending out a text to ensure students secure housing for the semester, send a text when you’re ready to begin housing assignments, and then when a reminder is necessary.
A good way to limit the number of texts you NEED to send is to ask questions. End your text with an opportunity for students to follow up. They need to know they can turn to you if they get confused.
Texting students once a day might not be a problem if it’s a time of the year when a lot is going on in their schedule. It’s hard to envision a scenario where texting students ten times a day is helpful unless there’s an actual back-and-forth conversation happening.
Coordinate with other departments
Your department is probably not the only one reaching out to students. Be sure to keep in touch with other stakeholders and develop a schedule. Some schools keep separate calendars to monitor when each department is sending texts, emails, and phone calls. (You can color-code it!) If a student is getting 20 texts a week, they’re not going to care that the texts are coming from different offices, they’re just going to opt out.
Don’t neglect your other communication channels
Obligatory “eggs in one basket” reference - texting is highly effective, but it works best in conjunction with your other mediums. Use texts to follow up on emails. If you’re calling students and getting lots of voicemail boxes, send a text. This will limit the number of texts you need to send and also ensure you’re reaching students in their preferred method.
Use common sense
Don’t send texts between 10 PM and 6 AM. Don’t wish students a Happy Arbor Day (unless your football team is The Fighting Trees). Do check in with students during midterms to ensure they’re handling school well. It’s not spamming if it's helpful, and students appreciate nudges as much as you appreciate being reminded that you have a dentist appointment.